Set in 1919 during the Spanish flu pandemic, this period Hungarian horror directed by Péter Bergendy is imbued with shades of black and grey, a monochromatic colour scheme designed to feel reminiscent of classic silent horror films.

Returning from the first world war where he has endured a near-death experience, Tomás (Viktor Klem) swaps his guns for a camera as he takes a job as a post-mortem photographer, a carnivalesque gig where he poses and takes pictures of the dead for their loved ones. A chance encounter with the orphaned Anna (Fruzsina Hais) leads Tomás to her strange, remote village where people are mysteriously dying en masse. Through the magic of photography – and the phonograph – the sleuthing pair uncover dark supernatural forces that lurk underneath the sleepy town.

The slow build-up of the eerie atmosphere is especially skin-crawling to witness, as expressionist shots of long hallways and ominous shadows that materialise out of thin air conjure a frightening sense of unease. Unfortunately, this intriguing moodiness is thrown out of the window as the film lurches wildly into one jump-scare after another, which range from genuinely spooky to plain silly. Occurring in such rapid succession, the sight of villagers levitating or randomly rising from the dead becomes repetitive if not outright boring.

Despite its disappointing latter half, I am hesitant to write off the film entirely. For those who enjoy period details as well as practical horror effects, there is much to be mined here, such as the meticulously recreated village and the impressively gnarly makeup applied on the victims of the malevolent spirits. If Post Mortem had dialled back on the jump-scares and buffed up its anaemic script, the theme of how historical traumas can become a force of evil could have been driven home much more effectively.

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